The husband of a Japanese diver missing off Bali since last week joined the search for his wife on Wednesday, following the dramatic rescue of five others in the group and the death of a sixth.
Putu Mahardena Sembah, who is Indonesian, told reporters “I wish we can find” his wife, instructor Shoko Takahashi, as he set off with rescuers in a boat – but police cautioned chances of locating her alive five days after she went missing were slim.
Sembah and Takahashi ran the operator Yellow Scuba that took the seven female Japanese divers out on an expedition on Friday from Nusa Lembongan island, east of the resort island of Bali.
The women, all experienced divers, went missing – and as days passed hopes faded any of them would be found alive in an area known for its stunning underwater beauty but also strong, unpredictable currents.
Video: Rescuers take survivors to shore
Then fishermen spotted five of the women on Monday – three days after they disappeared – clinging to a coral reef. They were plucked to safety and taken to hospital.
The body of a sixth diver, however, was found by members of the public on Tuesday floating near a beach in southern Bali, the island’s search and rescue chief said.
Sembah set off from Semawang beach in south Bali on Wednesday morning with a group of some 15 rescuers in three boats, while a search and rescue helicopter hovered overhead, an AFP reporter at the scene said.
Japanese friends and relatives of the divers, who had travelled to Bali to help in the search, were among the rescuers setting off from the beach, which is lined with scuba diving centres.
Local police chief Nyoman Suarsika said the search would focus on the areas of Sanur and Kuta, popular tourist spots in southern Bali.
But, he warned: “The chances of finding her alive are very slim now that she has been missing for five days.
“Whether alive or dead, we will try our very best to find her.”
Hopes had been raised early on Tuesday, before the body of the sixth diver was discovered, that the final two missing women were still alive after villagers spotted two people on coral reef sending out what they thought were distress signals.
However Suarsika said rescuers scoured the area, called Manta Point off Nusa Penida island, and it turned out the people were local anglers. Manta Point is where the other five were found alive.
The five rescued divers, who are in hospital in Bali, have suffered sunburn and dehydration but none is in a serious condition, doctors say.